Baz Luhrmann couldn’t help falling in love with Austin Butler. The Australian director announced today that the 28-year-old actor will star as Elvis Presley in his forthcoming biopic about the legendary singer.
Butler, who has appeared in films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Dead Don’t Die, beat out several high-profile actors to land the starring role, according to Deadline. Miles Teller (Whiplash, Thank You For Your Service), Harry Styles (Dunkirk) and Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars, Baby Driver) all screen-tested for the role.
“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist,” said Luhrmann.
“Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent. I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, and through a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.”
The film will also star Tom Hanks as Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and will start shooting in Queensland, Australia in early 2020. The drama will follow Elvis’ life from his start as a struggling singer in Tennessee to his role as one of the most important musical icons in rock-and-roll history. The film will focus on the two-decade-long relationship between the “Jailhouse Rock” singer and his overbearing manager.
Luhrmann will direct the film, and he also co-wrote the screenplay with longtime collaborator, Craig Pearce. Luhrmann is also set to co-produce the film with Catherine Martin, who won multiple Oscars for her previous work with the director on Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby.
While Butler hasn’t responded to the news, that didn’t stop Vanessa Hudgens, Butler’s girlfriend, from sharing her excitement. On Instagram, she wrote how she was proud of Butler and that she was over the moon about his new role. The post has already been liked over 200,000 times with fans congratulating Butler.
Elvis Presley first shot to fame in 1954 with his single “That’s All Right.” The King had a string of hits including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog,” as well as a successful career as a movie star. Presley died in 1977 at the age of 42.